The energy crisis has been well documented over the last 6 months and yet many people are not aware that businesses do not have a price cap on their energy use. Neither are they eligible for the Energy Bill Support Scheme payments that domestic customers have been receiving on a monthly basis since October 2022.
In this context, it seems incomprehensible that businesses that are operating out of high rise buildings in London are still leaving lights on 24/7, wasting enough energy overnight on Canary Wharf alone to power 4000 homes. There is a great drive for businesses to adopt increased sustainability measures and as part of this, the City of London will soon be mandated to dim its lights overnight.
New lighting policy
The move for reduced overnight lighting is being balanced against the need for citizens to be safe navigating around the city at night. Rather than a full-scale lights out notice, new buildings in heritage and residential areas will be required to switch off or dim lights at 10pm. Those in tourist and cultural parts of the city will be allowed to keep lights on until 11pm and those occupying new buildings in purely commercial areas will not need to switch their lights off until midnight. Existing buildings will be exempt from these rules, but their participation will be encouraged.
Dimming or extinguishing lights overnight has two major benefits. Businesses will benefit from significant cost savings, and light pollution in the city will be reduced. Light pollution has been proven to have a negative impact on human health, compromising our ability to regulate circadian rhythms. Beyond this, it has an effect on local wildlife that relies on true darkness for reproductive, migration and even pollination activity.
At Build Space, we feel that this move is long overdue and find it disappointing that many construction companies in the city have not chosen to adopt this measure by installing motion sensitive and dimmable lighting in high rise buildings as standard. Across Europe, dimming lights in office buildings overnight has long been the custom and the human and wildlife population has been shown to benefit.
Other sustainability measures available
Businesses could consider installing secure bicycle storage, showers and changing facilities to encourage staff to commute using emission-free forms of transport rather than driving to work or, where this is not feasible, create an online bulletin board to connect members of staff with colleagues who live locally and may wish to car share.
Staff should be encouraged to switch off their computers, printers and photocopiers overnight and turn off plug sockets that are not in use. Leaving IT equipment on standby is unnecessary, expensive and a fire risk, so there really is no good reason not to switch it off properly at the end of each working day. This applies equally to desktop fans and air conditioning systems which are not required when the building is unoccupied.
Whilst on the topic of sustainability, further measures that can be incorporated into new and existing infrastructure include installing solar panels or wind turbines where appropriate to generate some of the electricity consumed by the building, adding sufficient good quality insulation to not only improve the comfort of the people working in the buildings but to control the atmospheric temperature, installing water saving taps  and proactively repairing leaky taps and toilets.
Some buildings may be suitable candidates for Gravity Fed Rainwater Harvesting Systems. This innovative technology allows rainwater to be collected and used to flush toilets and water green areas and office plants, saving money and improving the quality of the working environment .
Another significant way of encouraging sustainability in the construction industry is the wider adoption of offsite construction. Not only is this form of construction cheaper than the traditional methods, but it can have significant sustainability benefits in terms of reduced noise and air pollution during the build and fewer vehicles visiting the site each day, which has a knock-on impact in terms of reduced CO2.
At Build Space we are strong advocates of net zero and other sustainable initiatives and are always looking for ways to deliver efficiencies in the way in which we conduct our daily business. We employ many forms of smart technology in our office buildings, encourage remote working and flexible working practices to reduce peak time traffic in the area and reward our staff for making environmentally conscious choices. We extend our sustainability practices to our talent management processes too, making use of technology where possible to connect with clients and talent in a cost and time efficient manner.